by Guerry Norwood

Massengale is a popular and busy public park, where the smells of grilled hamburgers and hot-dogs mix with the happy shouts of playing children. Because of its extensive use, it has the worn look of a public park. Nevertheless, it provides access to the southern end of East Beach, and visitors who head north from here will experience the best beach the island has to offer. The sand is hard-packed and suitable for biking.

The park came about due to philanthropy by the Sea Island Company, which was in the process of limiting public access to its beaches and wanted to provide a public beach area for St. Simons residents, but not on Sea Island. The Sea Island Company bought the property in 1945 in an attempt to get the state to build a state park, but it was deemed too small, and the state instead purchased Jekyll Island. In 1955, the Sea Island Company donated the property to Glynn County for the park.

The woodlands of the park and East Beach, supporting Live Oaks and pines, are remnants of the maritime forest on the Holocene fragment of St. Simons. Because of the younger, poorer soil, this forest is much less diverse, compared with the mid-island forests that are growing on richer, Pleistocene soils found west of Bloody Marsh.

  • Directions: From Brunswick, cross F.J. Torras Causeway. Go left on Demere Road to East Beach Causeway. After crossing the causeway, go right on Ocean Boulevard. Massengale Park is on the left.
  • Activities: Beachcombing, picnicking, biking, bird-watching, nature study.
  • Dates: Open daily 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Facilities: Park, picnic tables, restrooms, showers.
  • Fees: None.
  • For more information: St. Simons Island Chamber of Commerce, Neptune Park, St. Simons Island, GA 31522. Phone (912) 638-9014.

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